Tahoe Chief’s Corner: Community support is as strong as call volume is high | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Chief’s Corner: Community support is as strong as call volume is high

Michael Schwartz
Special to the Sun-Bonanza
Michael Schwartz

There’s no doubt that this winter has been a testament to the tenacity of our community. The term “community” extends to all North Tahoe Fire Protection District (NTFPD) employees, first responders from near and far, residents, second home owners, local businesses, public agencies, neighboring fire districts, utility companies, board of directors, and more.

We’ve experienced camaraderie in varying directions and by varying degrees, making us truly proud to serve you. With all of this said, this week we’d like to take a step back and give you all of the credit you deserve.

During the second week of January, Lake Tahoe saw the beginning of a winter unlike one we’ve had in years. Homeowners were without power in some areas for over a week, and some homeowners found themselves in situations deemed unsafe due to heavy amounts of snow and extreme weather conditions.

As a result of this potentially life threatening situation, North Tahoe Fire and Placer County Sheriff’s Office cooperated on the West Shore Safety Assessment Project. This project involved multiple agencies and volunteers. The group was able to assess the welfare of over two thousand homes, and in the process assist the power companies with power line restoration.

The project was a great multi-agency assessment, and a successful operation. We enlisted the help of many volunteers, all of which were a pleasure to work with and helped immensely in the success of the assessment.

At the end of January, Truckee Fire Chief Bill Seline wrote his Chief’s Corner about digging out your hydrant. Here at North Tahoe Fire, we’ve reiterated the importance of having a hydrant clear from snow so that firefighters can access it in the case of a structure fire in your neighborhood.

A lot of you have answered the call to action, and it’s appreciated beyond words. If this is news to you, we encourage you to join us in our ongoing “Adopt a Hydrant” campaign. If you’d like, take a picture of yourself with your hydrant and the hashtag #hydrantchallange and share it on Facebook or Twitter.

We love to see you helping out. Our firefighters get to the primary hydrants, but with the need for emergency response at an all time high, it’s impossible for us to get to them all.

One of our Board of Directors, Luke Ragan, even volunteered his time and equipment to aid in our efforts, clearing around seventy hydrants. We have a great Board of Directors, and applaud them for their continual operational support with all areas of the District.

In the midst of all of the weather madness, fire districts in our area have done their best in keeping you informed of safety messages that will help you along your way. Winter safety messages that we’ve shared range from winter weather hazards to emergency preparedness, and everything in between.

We’ve provided you with examples of where to find additional information on topics, such as avalanches (sierraavanlanchecenter.org), fire safety (nfpa.org), and emergency preparedness (redcross.org, placer.ca.gov, etc.). We hope that this week’s Chief’s Corner finds you safe, warm and in good spirits. Thank you for your support.

Michael Schwartz joined the North Tahoe Fire Protection District as its Fire Chief in 2012, after serving 29 years with a neighboring fire agency. Along with his wife Jean, they have been a part of the Lake Tahoe community since 1978.